I want all of you to go to Yahoo! Sports right now and click on the National Hockey League link. Quickly, but carefully, scroll down the page until you are able to see both the Eastern and Western Conference standings. Now look very closely at all the tiny numbers and see what team has the most points.
Tell me, what team has the most points in the Western Conference? Actually, tell me what team is leading in points in both the Western and Eastern Conferences. I think I’ll give up on the 20 questions game and just reveal what so many are trying to deny: The reinvented Anaheim Ducks have come against the odds and become the point-leading team throughout the NHL.
Maybe clothes do make the man after all. It seems that after sporting a few new jerseys and dropping the ‘Mighty’ from their name, the Ducks have seemed to finally find their niche in the hockey world.
Defenseman Chris Pronger has accumulated 13 points this season and leads the team in total points and assists thus far. Defenseman Scott Niedermayer follows closely with 12 points, as does veteran Duck Teemu Selanne. Of course I cannot go on without mentioning left wing Chris Kunitz, who happens to be leading the team in both overall goals and in power play goals.
Why regurgitate statistics to you rather than encourage you to simply go to a hockey Web site and look things up on your own? Well, one reason is because without my pointless facts so many of you will not recognize Ducks’ amazing achievements thus far. The second reason is that I need something to ramble about, and what better than sports statistics?
The only thing the team still needs to fix is their tendency to blow overtime games. Seriously, shootouts are great for hyping up fans but Anaheim just seems to crack under the pressure.
But let’s not overshadow the entire league with the success of one of our local teams, though they do deserve to be showered with praise.
Despite a loss to Toronto after losing their leading scorer to an injury, the Buffalo Sabres are still holding strong in the Eastern Conference with 23 points. Unfortunately, having the most points in the Eastern Conference will do nothing to bring back the Sabres’ leading scorer, Maxim Afinogenov, who unfortunately suffered an upper body injury during the first period of their Saturday night game against Toronto.
Jumping over to the Western Conference, we catch up with the Minnesota Wild and their second-place position. They still trail behind the Ducks by four points despite their overtime defeat of Anaheim in late October. What does that mean? Not a thing. By now we all know Anaheim chokes when it comes to overtime. Still, the Wild cannot go without their share of respect, especially with right wing Brian Rolston leading the team with 15 points.
From Minnesota, we move over to the Atlanta Thrashers and their second-place position in the Eastern Conference. Again, a team ranked lower than Anaheim has tremendous potential in point scoring, especially with right wing Marian Hossa. So far Hossa has scored 11 goals for the Thrashers followed closely by left wing Ilya Kovalchuk. We’ll just have to wait and see if the two stars will be able to lead Atlanta past Buffalo.
I can go on and on about the NHL and how the Anaheim Ducks are great, but the truth is the season is just getting underway. I can feel proud for these few last weeks but who knows what good or bad things will develop from their next few games.
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